Does Horseradish Go Bad?

In most cases when we say ‘horseradish’, we mean the prepared one, but you can also choose to buy horseradish root and prepare it on your own. But does horseradish go bad? It certainly does, both prepared and fresh roots. If you would like to learn a little about storage, shelf life and going bad of both prepared horseradish and horseradish roots, read along. As prepared horseradish is more popular, so we will start with it.

Prepared horseradish

We all know that commercially bottled prepared horseradish is sold unrefrigerated and that’s the way it should be stored until opening it. Make sure the area is cool and dry, e.g. in a cupboard in the pantry. Once you will open the bottle for the first time, it should be always kept in the fridge when not in use. In most cases it’s clearly stated on the label that opened bottle should be refrigerated, but even if there’s no such information, it’s the way to go. One more, pretty obvious, thing to remember – always keep the bottle tightly sealed when not in use.

Beet and beet leaf risotto with horseradish
(credit: Ned Raggett)

When it comes to shelf life, you should know that prepared horseradish has some preservatives, so its shelf life is pretty long. As long as the bottle is unopened, its suggested shelf life is about a year. Of course this is only a rough estimate and it probably will be safe to eat for a lot longer. Once the bottle is opened, its contents should be consumed within a couple of months (3 to 4 months). Similarly, it won’t go bad after that time, but its quality might drop noticeably and there’s a change you’ll decide to discard it for quality purposes. Of course if you won’t store prepared horseradish in the fridge after opening, it will lose its quality and eventually go bad much faster.

How to tell if prepared horseradish is bad? If it’s bad, it will be pretty obvious to you. Just check its appearance (look for mold), its smell (if it developed an off odor) or taste. If any of those things are as they are supposed to be (off odor, sings of mold or it tastes bad), just discard it. In most cases you will have to discard prepared horseradish for quality purposes, not because it has spoiled.

Fresh horseradish

When it comes to fresh horseradish root, store it wrapped tightly in the fridge and use as soon as you can. It should remain of good quality for a month or two when stored properly, but as all veggies, it will slowly deteriorate when stored. Before using, look for any signs of mold, changes in texture or appearance (black spots, etc.). Black spots in most cases can be cut out, but if it changed its texture noticeably, I’d throw it away.

As you should know by now, both horseradish root and prepared horseradish go bad. To make sure they will remain of good quality for as long as possible, make sure you store them properly.